U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee and a key voice during the tax reform debate, this week discussed the positive news that continues to be announced as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Thune explained that small and medium-sized businesses, including farms and ranches, will also see positive results from the new tax law by expanding their ability to recover investments they make in their businesses, which will free up cash that they can reinvest in their operations and their workers.
Thune’s remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, the good news for American workers continues to roll in.
“Just take a look at the headlines from last week:
“‘Pfizer Plans $5 Billion Boost in U.S. Manufacturing From Tax Law Changes’
“‘Cigna raises wages, benefits following tax law’
“‘CEO: Lehigh Valley small businesses to benefit from federal tax overhaul’
“‘Altria Group will pay $3,000 bonus to all non-executive employees’
“‘Ozarks workers to receive bonuses, benefits thanks to tax changes’
“‘Charter Sets $15 Minimum Wage’
“‘Lowe's to pay U.S. staff $1,000 bonus following tax reform’
“The number of companies increasing wages, boosting retirement contributions, or handing out bonuses thanks to tax reform continues to soar.
“Last week at this time the number was over 250.
“Now it’s up over 300.
“And it keeps growing.
“Businesses are making plans to invest in their workers, raise wages, create new jobs, and invest in the U.S. economy.
“Great Western Bank.
“The list of companies announcing good news for American workers thanks to tax reform goes on and on.
“The nation’s largest private employer, Walmart, announced an increase in its starting wage for hourly employees and bonuses for eligible employees.
“It also announced expanded maternity and parental leave benefits and the creation of a new adoption benefit for employees.
“More than 1 million Walmart employees will benefit from the changes.
“JP Morgan Chase announced that it will raise wages for 22,000 workers, add thousands of jobs, and open 400 new branches in the United States.
“It also plans to increase its lending to small businesses.
“Tech giant Apple announced that thanks to tax reform, it will bring home almost $250 billion in cash it has been keeping overseas and invest in the United States.
“It also announced that it will create 20,000 new jobs and provide $2,500 stock bonuses to employees.
“FedEx announced plans to expedite raises and invest $1.5 billion to expand its FedEx Express hub in Indianapolis.
“It’s also making a $1.5 billion contribution to its pension plan.
“And last week, Exxon Mobil announced that thanks in part to tax reform, it will invest an additional $35 billion in the U.S. economy over the next five years.
“That means a lot of new jobs and opportunities for American workers.
“I could go on. And on.
“And it’s important to remember that this is just the beginning.
“Companies have barely experienced the benefits of tax reform, and already they’re moving to invest in their workers and the economy.
“As the benefits of tax reform continue to sink in and accrue, we can expect to see more growth, more jobs, and more opportunities for American workers.
“Mr. President, the past month of good news is the reason we made business tax reform a key part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
“We are deeply committed to immediate relief for the American people, which is why we cut tax rates, nearly doubled the standard deduction, and doubled the child tax credit.
“But we want more for American workers than just a tax cut, as valuable as those are.
“We also want American workers to have access to the kinds of jobs and opportunities that will set them up for security and prosperity for the long term.
“Good jobs, good wages, and good opportunities were in short supply during the last presidency, and we are determined to improve things for American workers.
“And so we took action to improve the situation for American businesses, since the only way individual Americans thrive is if American businesses and the American economy thrive.
“Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, American businesses large and small were weighed down by high tax rates and growth-killing tax provisions.
“Plus, our outdated international tax rules left America’s global businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy.
“The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changed all that.
“We lowered tax rates across the board for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches.
“We expanded business owners’ ability to recover investments they make in their businesses, which will free up cash that they can reinvest in their operations and their workers.
“We lowered our nation’s massive corporate tax rate, which up until January 1 was the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.
“And we brought the U.S. international tax system into the 21st century by replacing our outdated “worldwide” system with a modernized territorial tax system, so that American businesses are not operating at a disadvantage next to their foreign competitors.
“And now, just a month and a half into the new tax law, we’re already seeing the results.
“Increased investment in the American economy.
“And as the tax law helps U.S. businesses, large and small, grow and thrive, we can expect to see a lot more benefits and opportunities for American workers in the future.
“Mr. President, before I close, I’d like to say a couple of words about the defense appropriations bill we’re taking up this week.
“By the end of the Obama administration, our military was facing a serious readiness shortfall.
“The Obama administration’s failure to prioritize defense left our armed forces with manpower deficits and delayed the acquisition of 21st century weapons and equipment.
“The defense appropriations bill we will vote on this week provides critical funding for restoring military readiness and would be a down payment on equipping our troops with the resources they need to meet the threats of the 21st century.
“Unfortunately, passage of this bill is in jeopardy here in the Senate thanks to Senate Democrats.
“Democrats have blocked a defense appropriations bill six times over the past almost three years, and they look set to block a bill once again.
“And that’s not acceptable.
“Funding the government by continuing resolution, rather than by appropriations bills, is never ideal, but it’s particularly problematic for the military.
“Under a continuing resolution, new programs are delayed, and the military’s ability to transfer money between accounts – for acquisition purposes, for example – is restricted.
“That’s a big problem when the security of our nation depends on the programs and purchases the military makes.
“Defense Secretary James Mattis has warned that, and I quote, ‘Long-term CRs impact the readiness of our forces and their equipment at a time when security threats are extraordinarily high.’
“Not to mention at a time when our military is already under extra pressure as it works to repair the deficits of the Obama years.
“Passing a defense appropriations bill, instead of subjecting the military to a constant procession of continuing resolutions, would go a long way toward ensuring our military men and women are prepared to confront the threats facing our nation.
“It’s too bad Democrats seem unable to look beyond politics to the needs of our military.
“Democrats may not pay a price for their opposing this bill this week, but our military will.”